On Juneteenth, we reflect on an important milestone in our nation’s history. On June 19th in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and the Civil War was over, slaves finally learned they were free. One-hundred and fifty-seven years later, our national reckoning on race and equity is far from finished.
We know that many people are still not free of or from racism, nor may they feel safe in public spaces because of the color of their skin. In Buffalo last month, we bore witness to a hate-fueled mass shooting that claimed 10 lives. This horror and the other senseless acts of violence over the course of many years has no place in a civilized and free democracy.
Health centers have vested 57 years into the fight against racism. Their mission starts with lifting humanity from the world’s worst inequities.
As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in March 1966, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.”
Health centers provide care to all, have staff reflective of the communities served, and most importantly, are governed by those that use their services. The radical idea of putting power in the hands of patients to direct their care established by the health center founders nearly six decades ago has grown into the largest, most successful network of comprehensive primary care in the nation. This is a mission that pushes back against racial inequality and brings access to care to everyone.
Reflecting on the promise of freedom that came with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, we at NACHC recommit our pledge to equity and fighting the effects of racism and health disparities throughout this country.
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the leading national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.